Suffering of Iraqis Demands Liberation
Saddam's Brutality Must Be Put To End
Mar. 30, 2003 12:00 AM
If there ever was doubt about the importance of eliminating Saddam Hussein, it should be gone now. With its last, dying breaths, the Iraqi regime is
vindicating the U.S.-led coalition's determination to remove it from power.
Rarely has the contrast between good and evil been so stark. American military commanders take extraordinary measures to limit civilian casualties and
avoid bombings of non-military targets. We are attempting to broker surrender agreements with members of the Iraqi Republican Guard to keep Baghdad
from being turned into rubble. American and British forces have stockpiled food and other humanitarian assistance to bring to a starving populace.
These are the hallmarks of good nations.
By contrast, the enemy is an evil tyranny that apparently will stop at nothing. Its leaders order soldiers to don U.S. and British uniforms, accept
surrenders of Iraqi troops, and then execute them one by one. Saddam's regime hides illegal weapons and key military targets under hospitals, schools
and mosques, putting his own citizens in peril. Saddam's lieutenants order the execution of innocent Iraqi civilians and blame it on the United
States. And starving Iraqis who have greeted American liberators provide wrenching proof that Saddam has kept billions of dollars in food and
humanitarian aid from ever reaching them.
We are seeing firsthand how Iraq's criminal regime treats prisoners of war - subjecting them to interrogation before television cameras, brutal
beatings, and executions without trial. Women who were POWs in the last Gulf War spoke of being sexually assaulted. Iraqi soldiers search for downed
American and British pilots by shooting wildly into the marshes where they may have crashed. They send out white flags of surrender, then stage an
ambush on soldiers trying to accept a truce. One of those ambushed, Pfc. Lori Piestewa, 22, of Tuba City, Ariz., is listed among the missing. Other
members of her unit have been listed as prisoners of war.
Warfare is tough, and soldiers on both sides can go too far in the treatment of prisoners. But that is not what is happening here. The Iraqi abuses
are systematic, widespread, encouraged by the regime, and a total violation of basic human standards and international law under the Geneva
Of course, that they would violate another international agreement comes as no surprise. Iraq's regime is as duplicitous as it is abusive; it has
already used weapons against allied soldiers that Iraq had claimed it didn't possess.
Such is the government that France and its cohorts risked destroying the United Nations to protect. Just think what would have happened if they had
succeeded, and we were left to face the Iraqi regime a year or two later - but this time, when it was armed with nuclear weapons.
Many dangers still await our troops in this war. The situation changes moment to moment, which is why most of the "armchair generals" on television
should withhold their advice. We know, for example, that Saddam already possesses a significant chemical arsenal. Thankfully, U.S. warnings to Iraqi
troops in the field and the Iraqi soldiers' own common sense have - so far - kept those weapons from being used. But that restraint may not last as
we enter Baghdad.
Coalition forces have come across a suspected chemical weapons facility (the investigation of that facility continues). They have discovered chemical
protection suits, presumably for the use of Iraqi troops. They have found bottles of antitoxins used as antidotes to chemical exposure. There will be
This is not the time to lose nerve. Americans everywhere are rallying around our troops and commander in chief. Our resolve is surely strengthened by
the knowledge that coalition forces are doing the right thing in ridding the world of this dangerous regime.
The dawn of liberation has started to cast a hopeful glow even in the darkest parts of Iraq. Signs of rebellion have stirred in Basra, Iraq's
second-largest city. In the tiny village of Safwan, 375 miles south of Baghdad, a tentative group of Iraqis ventured forth to observe the arrival of
American tanks, the tanks of their liberators. Some chanted in halting English, "Amerikee! Amerikee!" A woman fell to the ground and embraced the
legs of an approaching U.S. soldier. Others patted their stomachs and raised their hands, desperate for food.
American soldiers are embracing the Iraqi people, comforting them, and offering them the opportunity to forge their own destinies.
That is the difference between good and evil.